Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 9 July 2015
This report is for the media and the general public.
The SMM monitored the implementation of the “Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements”. Its monitoring was restricted by third parties and security considerations*; persistent jamming of SMM UAVs over “DPR”-controlled areas was during the reporting period a major hindrance to monitoring in those areas. The SMM continued to observe ceasefire violations at and around the Donetsk airport. The situation was calm in and around Shyrokyne. The Luhansk region remained largely calm although the SMM noted indications of recent fighting.
Although significantly less than the previous day, the level of violence at and around the destroyed “Donetsk People’s Republic” (“DPR”)-controlled airport (12km north-west of Donetsk) was high. Positioned at the “DPR”-controlled central railway station (8km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM between 7:50 and 13:00hrs heard the sounds of 103 incoming, 98 outgoing and nine indeterminate rounds. The rounds – either artillery or mortars – impacted in or were fired from locations 3-10km to the north-east, north, north-west and west of the SMM’s position. At the same location between 12:45 and 18:00hrs, the SMM heard an additional 121 incoming and outgoing artillery or mortar rounds, plus small arms and light weapons (SALW) and anti-aircraft fire.
The SMM noted new “DPR” positions 400m east of the line of contact – 2.1km east of the centre of Shyrokyne (20km east of Mariupol) – and more than 1km east of the line further north. The SMM noted no “DPR” presence in Shyrokyne. Small-arms ammunition, anti-tank mines, rocket-propelled grenade warheads, anti-tank rockets and grenades were littered all across the village. No civilians were present. The SMM noted Ukrainian Armed Forces in the south-west of the village. In nearby government-controlled Sopyne, 4km to the west, a woman and a man told the SMM that the situation had been calm over the previous two days.
In government-controlled Marinka (23km west-south-west of Donetsk), male and female residents told the SMM of regular night-time shelling between Ukrainian Armed Forces’ positions on the contact line and “DPR” positions further east. They said there had been consequential damage to gas pipes. They added that local people were in need of landmine and unexploded ordnance (UXO) awareness training following the deaths of two women killed by a booby trap on the eastern outskirts of the town, close to the contact line, in early June. In government-controlled Krasnohorivka, 7km further north, local residents also spoke of regular night-time shelling and SALW fire. The head of the civilian-military administration in the town told the SMM that both electricity and water-supply infrastructure had been damaged in the fighting.
Whilst in government-controlled Toshkivka (60km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM heard three explosions occurring at a location approximately 10km to the south-west.
In government-controlled Stanytsia Luhanska (16km north-west of Luhansk), a Ukrainian Armed Forces representative to the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) on 8 July told the SMM of a skirmish close to the bridge in the early hours of the morning. He said SALW, including heavy machine-guns; anti-aircraft guns and grenade launchers were used. He reported no casualties. The SMM observed fresh craters caused by grenade launchers and 82mm mortars close to the Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint at the northern end of the bridge. It observed one heavily-damaged house in the vicinity. The SMM also noted the presence of approximately 30 people – mostly women – waiting to cross the checkpoint. Some of them said they had been coming there daily for more than a week.
The following day in government-controlled Novoaidar (49km north-west of Luhansk), the SMM observed a military helicopter landing close to two waiting ambulances. Personnel at a nearby Ukrainian Armed Forces checkpoint told the SMM that two Ukrainian soldiers had been seriously injured in fighting in Shchastya the previous night.
In “DPR”-controlled Amvrosiivka (53km south-east of Donetsk), the SMM visited an internally displaced persons (IDP) centre, which currently houses 28 people (18 children, four men and six women). They told the SMM that they came from towns close to the contact line affected by fighting, naming in particular, “DPR”-controlled Dokuchaievsk (32km south-south-west of Donetsk). They told the SMM that they had been there since February. They said they regularly received humanitarian aid from the People in Need non-governmental organization (NGO) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The children attend local kindergartens and schools. The adults told the SMM that they had no plans for the future apart from returning home when the conflict ended. The SMM also spoke to the “first deputy head” of Amvrosiivka “district administration”, who said there were 1,158 registered IDPs in the district, 325 of whom were children. He said the majority of them lived in private accommodation.
In “Lugansk People’s Republic” (“LPR”)-controlled Krasnodon (43km south-east of Luhansk), the director of the town’s sole hospital told the SMM that the hospital lacked basic medical supplies – unobtainable because of restrictions imposed on crossing the contact line. She added that the only current source for medical supplies was the Russian Federation but she didn’t know when the next batch of supplies would be delivered. Already, she said, the hospital had had to prioritize cases. The SMM observed that one elderly woman was refused treatment as she was not considered a priority case.
In “LPR”-controlled Pryvitne (11km north of Luhansk), two elderly men told the SMM that recent de-mining had enabled local farmers to work their land. They added that pensions – provided by the “LPR” “authorities” – had been paid in roubles since April. Elderly people in the “LPR”-controlled villages of Batyr and Nyzhnoderevechka (51 and 52km south-east of Luhansk, respectively) partly corroborated the latter piece of information, saying pensions had been paid since May.
In “LPR”-controlled Perevalsk (40km south-west of Luhansk), the head of the local “prosecutor's office” told the SMM that she had already hired staff, and the “election” of “judges” was ongoing. She added that “courts” did not operate – although she expected they would in November – which meant that those placed in custody would be subjected to an indefinite and possibly prolonged period in “custody” without the possibility of a “judge” hearing their case.
The SMM re-visited “DPR” and Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas, whose locations comply with the respective withdrawal lines. The SMM re-visited five “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas. “DPR” armed personnel at two of them denied entry to the SMM*. At two other sites, the SMM noted that all previously-recorded weapons were in situ. At the fifth site, two of seven previously-recorded towed howitzers (Msta-B, 152mm) were missing, as on previous visits. The SMM re-visited 11 Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding areas. Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel denied access to one site*. Some weapons previously recorded were missing at nine other sites: a self-propelled howitzer (2S3 Akatsiya, 152mm) at one site; nine towed howitzers (2A65 Msta-B, 152mm) at two other sites; three towed howitzers (2A36 Giatsint-B, 152mm) at another site; four multiple launch rocket systems (BM-21 Grad, 122mm) at two other sites; 10 self-propelled howitzers (2S1 Gvozdika, 122mm) at another site; and, six towed canons (MT-12 Rapira, 100mm) at two other sites. The eleventh holding area was abandoned, as was noted by the SMM on a previous visit.
Despite claims that withdrawal of heavy weapons was complete, the SMM observed two main battle tanks (MBT; T-72) in government-controlled areas. SMM unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) also observed four MBTs in “DPR”-controlled Bezimene (30km east of Mariupol), plus 26 armoured personnel carriers and at least 34 military-type trucks. Additional monitoring through the use of SMM UAVs was deliberately foiled by persistent jamming of the UAVs in a large swathe of “DPR”-controlled territory north and north-east of Mariupol*.
The SMM in the Dnepropetrovsk region observed 15 trucks each towing a howitzer (152mm 2A36), moving east.
The SMM continued to monitor the situation in Kharkiv, Odessa, Kherson, Ivano-Frankivsk, Chernivtsi, Lviv, and Kyiv.
* Restrictions on SMM monitoring, access and freedom of movement:
The SMM is restrained in fulfilling its monitoring functions by restrictions imposed by third parties and security considerations, including the presence – and lack of information on the whereabouts – of mines, and damaged infrastructure. The security situation in Donbas is fluid and unpredictable and the ceasefire does not hold everywhere. Self-imposed restrictions on movement into high-risk areas have impinged on SMM patrolling activities, particularly in areas not controlled by the government. Most areas along the Ukraine-Russian Federation international border have ordinarily been placed off limits to the SMM by both “DPR” and “LPR”. SMM UAVs cannot operate in the Luhansk region as it is beyond their range.
- “DPR” armed personnel refused the SMM access to two “DPR” heavy weapons holding areas, saying they had no orders or instructions to allow such a visit.
- Personnel at a Ukrainian Armed Forces heavy weapons holding area denied access to the SMM, explaining there were no commanders available to show the SMM the weaponry.
- SMM UAVs were consistently jammed while flying over most “DPR”-controlled areas to the north and north-east of Mariupol, resulting in a loss of video-feed, and an inability to monitor events on the ground.
For a complete breakdown of the ceasefire violations, please see the annexed table.